Establishing Relationship Rituals
In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, establishing rituals within a relationship are an important part of creating a sense of belonging. Relationship rituals are “repeated, intentional ceremonies that recognize a special time or connection.”
The rituals provide opportunity for partners to emotionally and physically engage on a regular basis. These rituals creates a sense of community and celebrates the specialness of the relationship. It can be small gestures that communicates to the spouse, “You matter to me.”
Relationship Rituals Strengthen Connection
Couples that are going through negative cycles often complain about the loss of these small rituals. For example, in a couples counseling session, the wife told her husband, “You don’t say goodbye and kiss me in the morning before you leave for work like you use to.” She describes their relationship as being more like roommates than a married couple. Part of the connection process needs to involve re-establishing purposeful, regular rituals that remind both partners that they are not roommates but lovers.
Important Times Of Belonging
When I work with couples, I help them to create their own relationship rituals distinguishing moments of meeting and separation or other important times of belonging. Susan Johnson writes, “These are deliberately structured moments that foster ongoing connection.” Examples of bonding rituals include:
- Regular time of calling or texting each other during the day.
- Establishing an intimate time that the two partners can share more deeper personal things such as “how are we doing together?” This can be a specific day & time of the week. It can be in a special location, such as a coffee shop.
- Establishing a special time that the two partners can without the kids or other distractions getting in the way, such as breakfast in bed together on a Saturday morning.
- Setting up a time/day for daily devotion around reading Scripture and praying together.
- Scheduling a regular date night.
- Taking a class together to learn something new or beginning a project.
- Recognizing special days for celebration such as anniversaries, birthdays, religious holidays, or family get-together events.
- Insuring that the sharing during daily connections include deliberate acknowledgements and validations of your partner’s struggles, victories, and painful events. Short comments like, “That sucks,” or “That was not an easy project you accomplished. I know you were frustrated throughout it and I am so proud that you didn’t quit.”
- Susan Johnson adds, “Taking opportunity to publicly recognize your partner and your relationship. This can take the form of a ceremony, such as a renewal of vows, or it can be a simple thank-you to your partner in front of friends for making a wonderful supper or helping you reach a personal goal.”
Are you and your spouse in need of marriage counseling? I provide marriage counseling using Emotionally Focused Therapy that provides specific steps to change the unhealthy negative loops into healthy connection. Contact me today to setup a counseling session and begin working on your relationship.